Planning Guide to New Zealand Working Holiday

Guide to New Zealand Working Holiday

Finally, you had successfully applied the New Zealand Working Holiday visa. You started to be nervous and lost of direction on what should you need to prepare to ready for this wonderful trip of your lifetime. No worries, here is your planning guide to New Zealand Working Holiday.

You can use it as your checklist, links will be suggested for you to further research.

Step 1 – Fixing a date (just a period of time will do)

The number 1 thing you need to decide first is to decide when to depart.

The visa grants us a year of validity to decide when we want to go, so it is crucial for us to hurry on deciding the departing date within a year.

There are a few factors in helping you to make the decision on when you can go:

        a) You are currently working or studying

If you are working, you need to plan out a time to hand out your resignation letter and wait for the notice period to end. Or you can discuss with your employer on taking a long leave to go to New Zealand. (I did meet people get months of unpaid leave to go for working holiday)

If you are studying, then you need to decide on finishing your course or after your graduation before going to New Zealand. It will be a long half a year to a year journey, you better think carefully.

        b) Seasonal Jobs

Having a working holiday visa, you are not allowed to work a permanent job, so you either work in a blue-collar job (waiter/housekeeping) or seasonal job (horticulture/viticulture). It is crucial for you to have a job asap when you in New Zealand.

Most employers would prefer you to be present there when you apply for the job. Hence, you better prepare yourself by surveying about job availability in every different season and the regions that offer jobs. If you interested in extending your time in New Zealand, going for jobs under horticulture or viticulture field can help you extend your visa for another 3 months.

You can refer to this post for more information about seasonal jobs in New Zealand.

Step 2 – Deciding Your First Stop at New Zealand

Guide to New Zealand Working Holiday-auckland-vs-christchurch

Most people will base at Auckland first because it is the most convenient place to fly over and it is a major city where everything will be much more convenient.

However, you still can decide to go to Christchurch as your base. Situated on the South Island, the second largest city in New Zealand. It is a good starting point where you want to start your journey from the South Island.

Both cities will have their own job opportunities, you just need to decide where to start.

Bonus idea:

Some people may think of going to travel first before starting their working holiday in New Zealand. In my experience, I went to Melbourne, Australia travelling first then fly to Christchurch. The flight ticket won’t be too much expensive compare to flying from Malaysia. It is all under your preference.

Step 3 – Flight Ticket

The earlier you buy your tickets the cheaper the deal you may get.

This is the reason you need to get your step 1 done first, deciding when you want to go. Then, it will be easier for you to search and be alert for the best deal to fly. Whereas, you just have to look for the cheaper flight then set that period as your departure date.

Give yourself more option of the date when choosing the cheapest flight because sometimes the cheapest one will fall into a weird time and date.

There are 2 direct flight airlines to choose to fly from Malaysia to Auckland, New Zealand.

  • AirAsia –  Budget airline. Flying from KLIA 2 to Auckland with 1 transit at Gold Coast, Australia
  • Malaysia Airlines – Not budget. Prepare to pay a little bit more, but its include luggage, food and a better seat.

Otherwise, go for a few stops or different airlines to mix and match to get the cheapest one. You can refer to these few sites to help search for the cheapest flight: SkyscannerKayakExpediaGoogle Flight etc.

Step 4 – Place to Stay


There are backpackers’ hostel, hotel, motel and homestay to choose when you reach New Zealand. Book to stay for several days because you need to open your bank account and apply for IRD number, which needs your proof of house address.

For me, it is advisable to stay at backpackers’ hostel or homestay where most of the backpackers stay. The owner will understand the procedure of the application and might help you out. Meanwhile, it is a good place to meet a like-minded new friend and to find work.

Accommodation Suggestion

  • YHA New Zealand – With YHA membership, you get a discounted rate for the hostels under it.
    • Malaysian: You can apply from the hostel itself or apply the membership in Malaysia that is cheaper than in New Zealand. Look for Hostelling International for the details.
  • BBH Accommodation – With BBH membership, you get discounted rate for the hostels under it. You can apply from the hostel itself.
  • Hostelworld – A site to look for hostels with or without under any organisation.
  • Airbnb – It will much cheaper when you travel in a group.
  • Homestay – Average person can cost NZD120/week, you can find more information from backpackers’ forum and Facebook group.

Step 5 – Things to Pack

Guide to New Zealand Working Holiday packing bag

When the time to leave is getting nearer, you started to panic on packing and stress that you didn’t leave out anything from home. It is a long journey away, you don’t want to be problematic requesting your family to send things you left out from home.

Although, with money, you can buy back stuff that you forgot to bring. But, the currency exchange will kill you. Everything seems to be so much expensive. It is advisable to bring enough for you to live for several weeks, besides food.

Here is the list of what to pack:


  • Airline ticket (you need it to get on the plane, soft or hard copy)
  • Print out your visa (not necessary as just in case)
  • Photocopy of your passport (not necessary, just in case of emergency use)
  • Driving license (make sure it is bilingual, then you can use it to travel)
  • A few copies of resume for a job application (maybe you lucky to get a better job)
  • IRD application form (download IRD form here)

Your bag:

  • Toiletries: Try to pack at least 2 weeks of supply. Things are not cheap here but convenience stores are everywhere.
  • Medication: It is better to bring some just in case you fall sick.
  • Enough clothing to last you for at least 1 week. After that, you can do your laundry.
  • Windbreaker is useful here because the wind will literally freeze you. Wear layers under the windbreaker if the weather is cold.
  • Jackets to keep warm.
  • Microfiber towel. It’s easily dry up if you need to make a move last-minute and it’s compact when you fold it up.
  • Hiking shoe and slipper.
  • Sunblock and lotion. The UV light over there is dangerous, you better apply it when you are doing outdoor activities.
  • Sleeping bag (not necessary unless you travel during wintertime). Can purchase when you are in New Zealand. Please take note that some hostels don’t let you use a sleeping bag on their bed.
  • Notebook/Netbook, phone, mp3 players, camera, DSLR, GoPro… etc.
  • Charges for your electrical devices.
  • Sunglass and hat.

You might think what kind of bag to bring after you had prepared all the stuff. For me, I brought a rucksack backpack and a laptop bag (actually is a skateboard backpack with a compartment that I can put my laptop). It is much more convenient for me to move around in any sudden situation. You need to always on the move, and you are a backpacker. However, choosing a bag is still up to you because having luggage also can be much convenient depend on your kind of travel plan.


Most airlines allow you to have at least 20kg for check-in bag, and 7kg for a hand carry bag. Please check your airline for the baggage fees and policy.

Step 6 – Keep doing your Research

You think everything had settled, already can go?

Wait a minute….

It is better to keep doing your research to get some ideas on other people’s experience or even join any social media groups. If there is anything happen or stuff you are not clear, you still have them to ask for help.

Joining groups is beneficial for you to:

  • deciding which New Zealand bank and telco company to use
  • survey around current job availability
  • looking for an alternative good place to stay
  • preventing any mistake made from the previous working holiday maker
  • guideline for your travel itinerary
  • looking for travel partners
  • friend gathering

Just go look for any active Facebook group, backpackers’ forum, WeChat group, WhatsApp group etc.

Now, you are all ready to go to New Zealand and start your working holiday experience!

Enjoy your wonderful trip ahead!

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